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Economic interests underlie the communal agenda
|Dawoodi Bohra and Chilyas were offering stiff competition to the Patels and banias of Gujarat. Thus in the carnage Bohra Chilya shops, occupying prime space have been targeted. Hindu-owned shops adjacent to them remain untouched, says
Today the core of the BJP's support in Gujarat comes from Patels. Along with Brahmins and Banias (who jointly comprise an estimated 12 per cent of the population), the PBB trio today rules the state.
During the tenure of Keshubhai Patel - which ended last November - the chief minister was frequently accused of practicing 'Patelism' by which the Patels were given disproportionate importance in administration. After the departure of Keshubhai, the Patels have been growing restive and before the communal carnage there had been talk of the votebank shifting back to the Congress. These communities faced stiff competition from the Dawoodi Bohra and Chilya community. Both communities were providing stiff competition to the patels and banias of Gujarat.
Thus in the Gujarat carnage specifically Bohras and Chilyas-owned shops, occupying prime space, near bus stops or railway stations, on highways in the prime markets have been targeted. Hindu-owned shops adjacent to them remain untouched. The Gujarat carnage also includes systematic loot of businesses, industries and properties belonging to other Muslims in Gujarat. It has turned out to be apparently a planned operation, with the specific intention of demoralising and dispossessing the Muslims economically.
The details of such large-scale destruction include about a thousand bakeries, paan and mithai shops, garages, barber saloons, hawkers, etc., which have thrown more than 10,000 Muslims out of work, thus depriving them of their livelihood. In Surat and Ahmedabad, over 60 factories owned by Muslims have been completely gutted.
In other cities, all big and small commercial establishments have been looted. These alone have caused the loss of about Rs 500 crore. Most restaurants, hotels and boarding houses belonging to Muslims in general and Chilyas in particular are burnt down.
The writings of Peter van der Veer, Professor of Comparative Religion at the University of Amsterdam, on the Indian situation have deservedly won high praise. His essay is the piece-de-resistance of the volume. It is entitled "Riots and Rituals: The Construction of Violence and Public Space in Hindu Nationalism." He writes: "Riots in India I have witnessed or read about were more often than not well-planned and had well-defined targets and rules. In some cases you know exactly when and where to expect them to begin and end, as if they were rituals" (emphasis added, throughout). Both rituals and riots play significant roles in the construction of social identities. A riot can also be staged to counter the economic growth of the Minorities by the vested interests in the majority community.
Worse still, the havoc they are wrecking in one state has ramifications for the rest of the country, the turbulence in Gujarat touched the lives of most of us. Because we have proved, beyond a shadow of doubt, that we are our own worst enemy.
The Sangh Parivar spread the myth that only Muslim suffers from the communal riots so that majority community has nothing to worry. The facts speak otherwise. The communal frenzy and carnage in Gujarat has caused unprecedented economic loss to the state and to private property. No official or academic survey has been made but according to rough estimates by English and Gujarati editions of major dailies losses fall under these heads:
» Rs 3,000 crore due to closed down shops, industries and commerce.
» Rs 1,000 crore in Surat city alone due to heavy damage to two textile mills, many handloom weaving factories and other industries, according to Kashiram Rana, Union textile minister from Surat
» More than Rs 10 crore due to burning down of 60 Opel Astras parked inside the GM Motors unit at Halol
» More than Rs 2 crore at the Lucky Film Studio nearby
» Rs 4 crore due to burnt down Honda City and Accord fleet of cars at Landmark Honda showroom at Thaltej on Sarkhej-Gandhinagar highway
» Rs 600 crore loss to the hotel industry at Ahmedabad City due to closure, according to Ratanprakash Gupta, president of the city's Hotel-Restaurant Association. At least 20,000 workers said to survive on these hotels and restaurants have been rendered jobless; many are missing
» Rs 500 crore due to burnt down restaurants and hotels at various towns and cities, according to a leading hotelier. That includes two A/C hotels at Bhavnagar and 120 restaurants at Ahmedabad, plus innumerable small cabins and restaurants on highways and small towns
» According to a leading Gujarati daily, at least 20,000 two-wheelers and 4,000 cars were burnt down at various spots in the city; thousands more were burnt at Rajkot, Vadodara, Bhavnagar; scores of trucks were destroyed on Kalo-Gudhra, Ahmedabad-Bhavnagar or Rajkot, Mehsana-Ahmedabad and Surat Vadodara highways.
» Besides the five industrial units burnt down at Halol, three big industries were heavily damaged at Shapar Veraval area in Saurashtra, six plastic and other industrial units at Rajkot, several at Vadodara, Surat, Godhra and Bhavnagar inside GIDC estates. Estimates do not include losses due to arson and torching of thousands of houses and buildings.
Economic loss due to the riots that rocked the state has officially been put at Rs 600 crore. But industry associations say the figure is more like Rs 2,000 crore - and that's not counting the direct cost of the damage inflicted by the rioters. One association has estimated trade losses at about Rs 1,500 crore and a setback of about Rs 600 crore to industry, with small business losing another Rs 100 crore.
However, even the figures tabulated by industry chambers may be just the tip of the iceberg. Reports indicate an exodus from the state of its most precious resource - human capital - with more than three lakh textile workers said to have migrated from Surat alone. And how does one quantify what the full horror of the Gujarat carnage may have done to consumer and investor sentiment?
Wipro chairman Azim Premji, in Ahmedabad recently for the convocation ceremony of the premier Indian Institute of Management minced no words about the after-effects of the riots. Gujarat's image had been severely tarnished, he warned, and risk-averse investors were likely to shun the state.
Thus inspite of Sangh Parivar claim that they are the representative of Hindus and its well wishers the fact remains that due to the policy of the Sangh Parivar Majority community equally suffers. Its no surprise that BJP was ejected out of Delhi Municipal Corporation as it was routed in the municipal elections, ending a five-year term in office. Hindus have begun to see through its game plan.